Waaay back in 2011, I wrote about names as trademarks in this blog post: Who Owns Lady Gaga?. People who are famous, for one reason or another, have good reason to protect their names. By “names” I’m referring to given names, pseudonyms such as “Lady Gaga”, and other appellations, as we’ll see. Trademark law is one of the means by which names are protected.
Recently, Greta Thunberg posted on Instagram:
Impostors, trademarks, commercial interests, royalties and foundation… First: Unfortunately there are still people who are trying to impersonate me or falsely claim that they “represent” me in order to communicate with high profile people, politicians, media, artists etc. Please be aware that this is happening and be extremely suspicious if you are contacted by ”me” or someone saying they ”represent” me.
I apologize to anyone who has been contacted – and even misled – by this kind of behavior.
Second: My name and the #FridaysForFuture movement are constantly being used for commercial purposes without any consent whatsoever. It happens for instance in marketing, selling of products and people collecting money in my and the movement’s name.
That is why I’ve applied to register my name, Fridays For Future, Skolstrejk för klimatet etc as trademarks. This action is to protect the movement and its activities. It is also needed to enable my pro bono legal help to take necessary action against people or corporations etc who are trying to use me and the movement in purposes not in line with what the movement stands for. I assure you, I and the other school strikers have absolutely no interests in trademarks. But unfortunately it needs to be done.
Fridays For Future is a global movement founded by me. It belongs to anyone taking part in it, above all the young people. It can – and must – not be used for individual or commercial purposes.
As of this writing, Greta does not seem to have filed to protect any of the listed trademarks in the U.S. A USPTO trademark search shows no results for GRETA THUNBERG or Skolstrejk för klimatet (my wife spent several years of her childhood in Sweden, so you’ll have to ask her how to pronounce that last one). There was a USPTO trademark application for FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE for t-shirts, but it was filed by what seems to be an unrelated person, and the application has been abandoned.
It’s odd that, given Greta’s stated reasons for protecting her name and trademarks, she hasn’t applied in the U.S. It’s not like the U.S. is free of frauds and scammers.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle, who go by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, had been taking steps to protect their Sussex Royal brand name:
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seeking to register the “Sussex Royal” brand as a global trademark for a range of items and activities including clothing, stationery and the running of “emotional support groups”, international filings suggest.
I found seven trademark applications pending before the USPTO for SUSSEX ROYAL:
Application for “Bed blankets; Bed canopies; Bed covers; Bed linen; Bed linen and table linen; Bed skirts; Bed throws; Baby bedding, namely, bundle bags, swaddling blankets, crib bumpers, fitted crib sheets, crib skirts, crib blankets, and diaper changing pad covers not of paper; Children’s bed sheets, pillow cases, and blankets; Pillow-top, low-profile bed skirts” by Devorah.
Application for “Stationery; Stationery boxes; Stationery folders; Stationery writing paper and envelopes; Stationery-type portfolios; Adhesive tape flags for stationery or household purposes; Envelopes for stationery use; File pockets; Office paper stationery; Organizational kits containing calendars, stationery, planning folders, templates and printed guidelines for planning social events; Organizers for stationery use; Paper stationery; Paper stationery with inspirational messages imprinted thereon; Paper gift cards; Paper sheets being stationery; Pencil ornaments; Seals; Stickers” and “Clothing layettes; Clothing wraps; Clothing, namely, folk costumes; Infant and toddler one piece clothing; Infant sleepers being clothing; Children’s and infants’ cloth bibs; Combinations; Fingerless gloves as clothing; Gloves as clothing; Head wraps; Hoodies; Jackets; Jerseys; Pockets for clothing; Shifts as clothing; Ties as clothing; Tops as clothing; Trunks being clothing; Wristbands as clothing” by SUSSEX ROYAL in Arlington, Virginia. Digging into the application, this one is also by Devorah.
Application for “Educational kits sold as a unit in the field of UK interest consisting primarily of printer materials and also including DVDs”, “Fabric sold as an integral component of finished clothing items, namely, royal themed fashion items”, and “Alcoholic beverages, except beer” by Alexander Mason Fuller in Boston, Massachusetts.
Application for “Bed and table linen, wall hangings of textile; Curtain tie-backs in the nature of textile curtain holders; Curtains and towels; Children’s bed sheets, pillow cases, and blankets” by Paul Scutt in West Berlin, New Jersey.
Application for “Communications by computer terminals; Transmission and delivery of video, audio, and data via the Internet and wireless communication networks” by Joel Fogelson in Pasadena, California.
Based on common sense and this blog post, it appears that none of these applicants actually represent the merry trademark owners of Windsor. The question is whether any or all of them will be rejected because they falsely suggest a connection with Harry and Meghan. To be honest, until this all came up a month ago or so, I didn’t know that they had a brand called Sussex Royal and if I had encountered a Sussex Royal branded product in the U.S., I wouldn’t have assumed it had anything to do with the British hereditary monarchy. It just would have seemed like a fancy-sounding name. Then again, maybe I’m not the target market.
So as with Greta, the royals seem to have dropped the ball on filing in the U.S. And in the end they dropped the whole SUSSEX ROYAL brand.
If you’d like to have your trademarks protected in the U.S., you don’t have to be a fancy European aristocrat or an internationally known climate activist, you just have to contact me.